Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

Most
Popular

Viewed

Commented

How to Cope With a Caregiving Crisis

When you're a caregiver, drama is inevitable

The phone rings at 2 a.m. Your mother's voice shakes as she tells you your father has been rushed to the emergency room. You have so many questions, most of which your mother cannot answer. If you live nearby, you head to the hospital. If you don't, you have to decide whether the situation is serious enough to make a trip.

See also: Ways to deal with caregiver stress.

Rushing ambulance - 7 Ways caregivers can prepare for a crisis

Don't let a family emergency overwhelm you — prepare a list of parents' medications, medical history beforehand. — Photo by Getty Images

Either way, you're in the midst of a caregiving crisis. It's stressful. It's overwhelming. But it can be managed. Here's how.

Prepare yourself

If you haven't had a crisis yet, being organized can help you better manage that call (and panic less) once it does happen. Compile a list of your parents' medications, their doctors' names and phone numbers, their medical history and copies of any advanced directives such as living wills, recommends Susan Fleischer, president of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. Write all this down and keep it in a handy place. Memory often fails you in moments of crisis.

During the last years of her mother's life, phone calls at odd times were a common occurrence for caregiver Laura Shumaker, 55, of Lafayette, Calif. "It sounds silly and obvious, but when you are mentally prepared for the phone ringing at odd and unsettling times, you're able to go into problem-solving mode more efficiently," says Shumaker.

Develop a network

Whether you're near or far, having a go-to group of people who can support you in times of crisis is a must-have, says Fleischer. Get names and numbers of your parents' neighbors who can check your parents' home if you haven't been able to make contact. Attend at least one doctor's appointment with your parents so you can meet their primary care doctor and find out the physician's emergency contact information. Find friends or family who would be able to house sit, pet sit or babysit at a moment's notice.

Next: Identify the spokesperson. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Caregiving
Resource Center

Find tools, work sheets and tips on how to plan, prepare and succeed as a caregiver. Select a Caregiving Resource Center topic from the drop-down menu below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Grandson (8-9) whispering to grandfather, close-up

Members save on hearing care with the AARP® Hearing Care Program provided by HearUSA.

AARP Discounts on ADT Companion Services

Members save 20% off installation of any NEW ADT Personal Emergency Response System.

Movies Unlimited

Members save 10% on purchases of DVDs & Blu-ray discs with Movies Unlimited.

Caregiving walking

Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but AARP offers resources that can help.

Featured
Groups

Caregiving

What do you wish you knew when you first started caring for a loved one? Discuss

Tactics for Aging In Place

Home is where the Heart is. Share with us your stories, strategies and caregiving tips for aging at home. Discuss